Blog Option #5: Surveillance

Algorithmic Surveillance and Facebook as Digital Enclosure

Due: Sunday, March 22 (by 8pm)

Drawing on our Week 8 readings from David Lyon and Mark Andrejevic, you will partake in Mat Honan’s “Like Everything on Facebook for 48 hours” experiment and compose a 350-500 word blog post that analyzes our complicity in how our digital data is produced and surveilled.

For this blog post you will:

1. Read Mat Honan’s article on his own experiment, and adhere to the guidelines he establishes (like everything through your personal facebook  for 48 hours, with the exception of updates about death, and limiting your likes for “relateds” to the first four, etc.).

2. Read Facebook’s Terms of Service and Data Use Policy, paying particular attention to any section that deals with data surveillance or collection, and how these uses are framed.  Read through these documents in their entirety  (including all links), part of the assignment is to really see just how long and/or dense these documents can be, and the discourses that they use to discuss digital/data surveillance.  You should screengrab relevant sections of these documents, or pull direct quotes, to augment your post.

3. Compose a 350-500 word blog post that defines and critically engages 2-3 of the following concepts from our readings:

  • digital enclosure
  • cybernetic commodities and contextual advertising
  • “the work of being watched”
  • “a totally documented life”
  • viewer society and the synopticon
  • panopticon
  • liking as a “screening” practice
  • algorithmic surveillance

Some questions you might consider include:

  • How have the items/updates/ads in your newsfeed changed since you began this experiment?  What do these changes suggest about your prior awareness (or lack thereof) about how algorithmic surveillance impacts your view of your social sphere via Facebook? Have others (“friends”) noticed or commented on how your experiment has impacted their feed?
  • How do the Terms and Conditions frame their data collection and privacy policies?  Is it transparent and/or clear on how to change your privacy settings on the site itself?
  • Are you concerned about the privacy of your personal data online?  If so, what, if any, measures have you taken to manage who has access to the data you produce?
  • Why don’t we typically read through the terms and conditions?  Is that we inherently trust the corporation/site/brand in question?  Or is it properties of the documents themselves (length, jargon, etc.)?  Do you consider it important to educate yourself about how particular platforms are surveilling or using your data?

Remember, though this is a blog post, it’s a scholarly blog post, so make sure you’re citing correctly (endnotes and/or parenthetical citations in the body of your post with a works cited list at the bottom.  You will be graded according to the blog rubric and the requirements outlined above.


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